Saturday, February 9, 2013

Frugality Tip #8: Price the EDIBLE Portions of Your Produce {List of the Cheapest Fruits and Veggies per Edible Cup}

Sometimes prices can be deceiving.

We all know that... but have you ever considered that you AREN'T getting what you pay for when it comes to fruits and vegetables?

I'll give you an example: Broccoli florets and fresh ears of sweet corn have similar sticker prices. However, when you remove the inedible parts, the corn becomes nearly twice as expensive as the broccoli. Fresh pineapple is the same way... only half of what you buy is actually edible.

Everyone knows it's important to include plenty of produce in their diets. Most people happily include them on their shopping lists, knowing that prices won't matter because fruits and veggies are a MUST. I also understand that (for some people) buying fruits and vegetables can seem like a huge burden on a tight grocery budget, no matter how necessary to a healthy diet they are.

Wouldn't it be nice to know the REAL price of the edible parts of fruits and vegetables... to be able to get the most bang for your buck? I tend to think so.

So, with the help of the USDA, I've created a few lists that include only the best-priced fruits and veggies per edible cup.


Cheapest FRESH Fruits (per edible cup)
1. Watermelon - $0.17
2. Bananas - $0.21
3. Apples - $0.28
4. Navel Oranges - $0.34
5. Pears - $0.42
6. Honeydew - $0.45
7. Plums - $0.48
8. Nectarines - $0.49
9. Mangoes - $0. 53
10. Grapes - $0.62
11. Cantaloupe - $0.64
12. Peaches - $0.66

Cheapest CANNED Fruits (per edible cup)
1. Applesauce - $0.46
2. Pineapple - $0.49
3. Mandarin Oranges - $0.55
4. Pears - $0.58
5. Peaches - $0.58
6. Apricots - $0.64
7. Strawberries - $0.66  

Cheapest {Frozen} Fruit JUICE (per cup)
1. Apple - $0.40
2. Pineapple - $0.48
3. Grape - $0.50
4. Orange - $0.51
5. Grapefruit - $0.54


Cheapest FRESH Vegetables (Per edible cup)
1. Russet Potatoes (boiled) - $0.41
2. Whole Carrots - $0.25
3. Iceberg Lettuce - $0.26
4. Cabbage (boiled) - $0.27
5. Onion - $0.28
6. Cauliflower - $0.31
7. Celery Stalks - $0.33
8. Romaine Hearts - $0.40
9. Radishes - $0.41
10. Sweet Potatoes (cooked) - $0.43
11. Spinach - $0.52
12. Mushrooms - $0.54

Cheapest CANNED Vegetables (per edible cup)
1. Sauerkraut - $0.30
2. Carrots - $0.34
3. Cut Green Beans - $0.34
4. Whole Kernal Sweet Corn - $0.37
5. Turnip Greens - $0.40
6. Tomatoes - $0.41
7. Potatoes - $0.41
8. Mustard Greens - $0.42
9. Green Peas - $0.43
10. Beets - $0.51
11. Kale - $0.52
12. Collard Greens - $0.53

Cheapest FROZEN Vegetables (per edible cup)
1. Cut Green Beans - $0.37
2. Carrots - $0.34
3. French Fries - $0.41
4. Kale - $0.48
5. Peas - $0.51
6. Corn - $0.53
7. Collard Greens - $0.53


Cheapest DRIED Beans (per edible cup)
1. Pinto - $0.13
2. Lentils - $0.15
3. Great Northern - $0.16
4. Black - $0.17
5. Navy - $0.17
6. Red Kidney - $0.20
7. Lima - $0.22

Cheapest CANNED Beans (per edible cup)
1. Pinto - $0.38
2. Red Kidney - $0.38
3. Great Northern - $0.41
4. Black - $0.44
5. Navy - $0.46

*Prices are from 2008 and do not take into account things things like garlic, lemon, and lime, because they typically represent produce that people consume for flavoring purposes. (I know I won't be eating a cup full of garlic any day soon.)

**These prices don't take into account loose heads of lettuce, because the article I used for this post didn't have specific data on those prices. However, I can tell you that buying lettuce and other greens in loose form is generally going to be less expensive than buying it bagged. There are things that are sold loose (apples) that are more expensive than bagged... loose greens were the only major player left out of these lists that I really wish had been included.

***Obviously, sale prices are not factored in here. These are the average prices over a year from stores like Kroger and Costco.

****I love these lists. But, I also love my blueberries (cheapest sold fresh), and incorporate other "more expensive" produce into our meals as well. These lists are simply a guide.

For more information check out this study: USDA Economic Research Service: "How Much Do Fruits And Vegetables Cost?".


  1. wow! this is the coolest thing I have ever seen! I want to know how much you spend on groceries every month. Do you think we could ever live on $400 a month. I would love it if you did a monthly shopping list, grocery list, and menu. If thats not to much to ask :) Love you! and I love your posts.
    with love

    1. Jo!
      I loved seeing your name on here. :) How much I spend on groceries each month varies. Last month was $330. I try to stay between $300 and $350 for food, and basic household necessities (diapers, wipes, hygiene, cleaning stuff) for my family of 5. I know that's probably not the cheapest you've ever seen, but I just can't compromise on good nutrition. I use coupons, but not so I can get crackers, cookies, and other pre-made, pre-packaged foods. I rarely buy those things.
      I'll see what I can do about a future post including my monthly grocery list and menu... though it might be unconventional, since I don't always follow my list... I look for things like marked-down produce and meat. Maybe I should just post a month's worth of receipts and what I prepared for my family with what I bought. Anyway, I'll figure out something for ya! Love,

    2. With regard to how much I spend: $300-$350 is my "official" budget. Sometimes I spend less... but I never spend more. :-) I think you could totally pull off $400 a month with some creativity... and especially if you keep a garden. (I can't WAIT for the day when I'm not living in a rental and can have my own garden!) Also, as a VERY frugal option, there are people who hunt deer or elk but don't need (or want) all the meat, so they end up donating it. If you know any avid hunters, you might consider asking them what they do with all the meat. If they donate it, you might ask if you could take it off their hands. Then find a good (fair-priced) butcher, and you've got some super cheap meat that tastes similar enough to hamburger. Justa thought. :)


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